Saturday, 28 February 2009

How do we secure modern liberty

Afua Hirsch, starts by saying that she thinks it is far harder to do this than the day job(s), as a lawyer she challenges misuses of rights as journalist she highlights these abuses to the world, but  this saying what is the way forward. She also (relevantly) talks about the hairdressers and how the people there feel a disconnect with politics. Why aren’t rights part of education why don’t children get taught how they should be treated by society (and also how they should treat other people to not infringe their rights).

Chuka Umunna agrees that part of what needs to happen is making rights mainstream, it should be part of the bread and butter of the countries daily life. He is relating a very personal tale about liberties being infringed and wondering how to widen this to relate it to people who haven’t yet experienced these problems themselves. Discussing the real on the ground experience of CCTV and DNA databases in the the constituency that he is the PPC for. He is suggesting that we need to ensure that the whole picture of government and corporate incursion is considered, so that spam, direct mail and other big brother business concepts are considered alongside database government not 100% convinced about the snail spam threat. This is a PPC who says he wants it to be an election issue.

“A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested by the police” is Chris Huhne’s opening quote as he goes on to talk about the constituent members of what he calls the parliamentary liberal party with a deliberate small L linking LibDems 50 or so Labour MPs who voted against 90 days and by his estimation of half the conservative party who are also liberal in view. Strangely he is also pimping his new Freedom Bill ;-) Next why are Human rights more important than a bill of British rights? Because what if a future authoritarian government starts declaring people non persons then they are no longer protected, second instance of the conference ending abruptly due to Godwin's Law, Shami fell fowl earlier as well. The next way forward is to re-strengthen parliament keeping the government to account the separation of executive and legislative is so important.

Will Hutton has asked the question on what basis we put this to put across and has landed on the totally British point of making it ‘Fair Play’ and has folled this back to Chuka’s point about business, they are never going to behave better than the government and as the current government is not setting a moral bar they have nothing to live up to. The Audience is divided on comments about different cultures and how they see “public space” mainly because one of the contrast cultures was Islam.

Brian Eno puts down his Mac and hush descends, what is different about humans, imagination, this is because we practice it, we do this through arts and science. He now posits that our vision of people has changed we don’t see “the enemy” as we did in the world wars, we have empathy to their suffering no matter who or what they are and what the political machines are doing. The problem is that the though of imagination and empathy seems to be finite and as we have more feeling we have less vision of the future and aren’t seeing the coming problem as they dismantle the ramshackle edifice that is our civil liberties. Next is parallels with how much effort we need to put in to get climate change sorted how everyone should learn from the youth using facebook etc to organise etc to thwart control. In response to the earlier comments, he also supports the idea that education should immerse young people in liberty.

You should definitely watch the video, Eno is more expressive than I am.

Questions: Who would we trust in writing a constitution and what role could the convention play?

Chuka suggest web2.0 techniques to help write a new constitution, I think Chuka Umunna has just suggested crowdsourcing writing a British constitution. Looks like Will Hutton is backing him up. This would become a true Constitutional Convention.

Question about civil disobedience and asking if the “establishment” are as committed. Oh it wasn’t really a question.

Question about children being taking children from parents, Chris H responding, has moved back to the previous non question and suggesting that parliament is too stable.

Very important point from Evan Harris that all these rights belong to all, no matter what we think about them or what they have to say. Very big round of applause. All these freedoms need to fully free for all.

Eno has suggested a honoured group that should draft the constitution, Chris H cites two provinces in Canada that have done it with random people.

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